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School Readiness Scores
The School Readiness Scores indicator measures the percent of kindergarteners ready to enter first grade. It includes the readiness of the individual child, the school’s readiness for children, and the ability of the family and community to support optimal early child development. Children are not innately ready or unready for school. Their skills and development are strongly influenced by their families and through their interactions with other people and environments before coming to school. With 81 percent of U.S. children in non-parental care arrangements the year before kindergarten, child care centers and family child care homes are important early environments that affect children’s development and learning. Furthermore, early childhood education is linked to stronger cognitive and physical development, and improved school and employment outcomes. Early childhood education, especially within the first five years of life, has demonstrated positive effects on children’s health and well-being up to three decades later, including better reproductive health and birth outcomes. School readiness is typically assessed by evaluating the child’s developmental and academic skills through the use of standardized group or individually administered school readiness tests. It is not surprising that this approach has been shown to poorly predict later academic success as it largely ignores the influence that the home and school environments play in the student’s progress in school. Data for the School Readiness Scores is available from the Alabama Department of Children’s Affairs.